Damar Hamlin: The Sports World Comes Together

Buffalo Bills safety Damar Hamlin
Photo Credit: Kevin Sabitus/Getty Images

During the Monday night affair between the Cincinnati Bengals and Buffalo Bills, the NFL was struck with one of its greatest tragedies in recent memory. Damar Hamlin suffered a cardiac event while making a seemingly routine tackle, and after getting up, immediately collapsed onto the field.

What ensued was a moment of absolute and utter chaos. CPR and defibrillators were both used on the field, in the eye of everyone in the stadium. An emergency unit filled with strong individuals carried out their duties well, and Hamlin was able to reach the hospital quickly enough to keep him alive.

Often times the labels humans assign to their counterparts are covered in negative connotations. Most humans don’t have faith in others, and would be quick to expect others to disappoint them. While Hamlin’s incident is surely tragic, it’s also served as a great reminder that humans can, indeed, be good sometimes.

Fan and League-Wide Support for Damar Hamlin

Tuesday and Wednesday night, a combination of fans has gotten together at the Bengals’ stadium to hold a candlelight vigil, in honor of Hamlin.

This is just one small example of the outcry of support from across the league. For example, all 32 NFL teams have changed their logos on Twitter to a “Pray for Damar” message. In similar news, at many stadiums around the league, messages of support for Hamlin can be seen.

The following cities and teams made an effort to show support for Hamlin: 49ers, Dolphins, Broncos, Ravens, Patriots, Jaguars, Saints, and the Raiders. Here’s an example, from U.S. Bank Stadium in Minnesota:

Even a local natural wonder like Niagara Falls lit up blue on Tuesday night in support of Hamlin. Even outside of the football world, teams have been paying their respects.

Outside of Football

Donovan Mitchell scored 71 points on Monday. The most points scored by a player in a single NBA game, since Kobe scored 82. Mitchell didn’t get much recognition for that — which is unfortunate yet understandable. When he did talk to the media; however, the first thing he shared was his support for Hamlin.

The Buffalo Sabres came into their game on Tuesday wearing shirts that read; “Love for 3”. Rookie sensation Tage Thompson would then score three goals, with his third coming in the third minute of overtime. A moral and symbolic victory for the city.

Damar Hamlin’s Charity

In 2020, Hamlin started a charity, the Chasing M’s Foundation, aimed at purchasing toys for children in his hometown in Pennsylvania. This charity wasn’t too well-known, but it had raised a bit of money.

In the first few hours immediately after Hamlin’s injury, as the public learned about his charity, donations came pouring in. After those first several hours, over $4 million was raised.

Editors Note: As of editing this article, Hamlin’s charity has exceeded $7 million, including a donation of over $25k from the Indianapolis Colts and owner Jim Irsay.

Ultimately, many do carry the view that the world is an evil place, and that humans will do evil things to each other. Given the course of human history, you’d be hard-pressed to claim that argument as incorrect. In the wake of this tragedy, we were reminded that humans can be great, too.

People want their flowers when they’re here. One of the greatest achievements one can have is to see how valued, loved, and respected they are by other people. Damar Hamlin is the example of a great man. We can only hope that he pulls through this and gets to see his flowers.

Damar Hamlin Injury: Just Another Day at the Office

Teammates of Damar Hamlin stand by, shocked, outside his ambulance.

Courtesy: Jeff Dean/AP

The events of Monday, January 2, 2022 were unlike any other on the football calendar. It was supposed to be a grand celebration of football on the day after New Year’s. The Rose Bowl was supposed to lead into a crucial Monday Night Football game with the Buffalo Bills taking on the Cincinnati Bengals.

Instead, it saw the greatest tragedy in the sport in 50 years. Early in the game, Buffalo Bills safety Damar Hamlin made a routine tackle on Bengals receiver Tee Higgins. This tackle was no different than the one most players make every Sunday. He stood up, then fell right back down, lifeless.

Now, he’s in the hospital fighting for his life.

Not that it matters compared to the life of a human being, but the sport has entered into an existential crisis with Hamlin’s sudden collapse. Several events this past season have raised questions about how safe players really are on the field.

Granted, Hamlin’s injury was a freak accident, the kind of thing that happens every blue moon to any athlete who plays a sport. Reminders of Hank Gathers, the Loyola Marymount basketball star who collapsed and died on the court in similar fashion, would not be lost on the viewer.

Yet, player safety has taken a backseat to the shield’s image perception. What happened to Damar Hamlin, is, in the eyes of the NFL, just another day at the office.

Football is a fundamentally dangerous sport

It is obvious to anyone who considers the matter, but this sport is dangerous, and carries with it the risk of death. An average of 12.2 young men per year die in football-related injuries. Yet, parents still choose to let their children play this remarkably violent game.

It’s something that the viewer inherently understands, and why parents are so hesitant for their children to play it.

When it comes to the NFL, though, the matter is different. We all watch every Sunday, knowing the risks of CTE that each man on that field is waiting on to catch him later in life. Of course, this is not to harangue anyone for watching. I do it, you probably do it, everyone else does it. It isn’t the most popular sport in the country for no reason.

Even with the danger, though, we know we can’t do anything about it, and deep down, there’s a part of us that enjoys the danger. It’s the same allure that the Romans no doubt had when they watched gladiatorial games in the Coliseum. The danger is what gives the game its lifeblood, its je ne sais quoi that elevates it from simple sport to titanic battle between titanic people.

But, death? Death is something football fans rarely consider. Sure, it’s in the back of one’s mind, in the same way that crashing your car and dying is always in the back of your head while driving.

The NFL screwed up

For the NFL, though, thinking like this is a failure on their part. Because they pass the buck to players when they get later on in their lives, the idea of death as a construct never once comes into the NFL’s mind. After all, it’s been the most popular sport for 60+ years now, and there’s no reason to think that won’t continue.

Yet, if the NFL is going to die, last night is an example of how.

While the medical staff did everything correctly, the NFL’s decision-making afterwards did not. They wanted to start the game up again, giving each team just five minutes to warm up.

Thankfully, cooler heads prevailed. Cincinnati Bengals coach Zac Taylor walked over to Bills coach Sean McDermott and agreed to send both their teams back to the locker room. That eventually ended the night, and the game for the time being.

The NFL expected these players – who had just watched their teammate possibly die on the field – to play. Later on, tweets came in saying that there was no discussion at all to put the players back out there, but clock operators and PA announcers all announced the five minute warning.

While one cannot say who exactly made the call, the message was clear: get back out there and put your time in the office, no matter what.

Other incidents this season show the NFL’s disregard towards player safety. Tua Tagovailoa’s saga back in September and October showed how little the NFL cares about player safety.

He suffered a massive concussion against the Bills, but somehow managed to return against the Bengals before being carted off in that game after another hit. In response, the NFL changed their concussion protocol some, but that didn’t stop yet another concussion from flying under their radar.

Damar Hamlin deserved better

Damar Hamlin was just a football player living a dream.

That’s what everyone in the NFL that plays the game is: an individual who is very lucky to do what they do. But, sometimes we forget that these are humans who play a very violent sport. Sometimes, that leads to violent consequences.

Yet, the overseers of the NFL give the players nothing but a lack of safety. Even worse, they don’t have any malice or feeling towards it. It’s just “let’s wipe off the blood and get back out there” forever.

One thing is for sure — football will be played after Hamlin’s cardiac arrest. Whether it’ll be changed for the better is cause for less optimism.

For the NFL, it was just another day at the office.

Dolphins vs Bills: Week 15 Preview

Dolphins QB Tua Tagovailoa and Bills QB Josh Allen
Photo Credit: Cooper Neill and Rob Carr/Getty Images

It’s been 12 weeks since the Miami Dolphins beat the Buffalo Bills in Miami to take the lead in the AFC East. Now, in Week 15, the Bills are back on top. Two straight losses from the Dolphins have opened the door for the Bills to take a three game lead in the AFC East. Both teams will be battling more than each other this Saturday night. What will affect these two squads and how will it play out? Let’s dive into what to expect in this rivalry game: Dolphins vs Bills, part 2.

Dolphins vs Bills Game Information

  • Date: Saturday, December 17
  • Time: 20:15 ET
  • Venue: Highmark Stadium; Orchard Park, NY
  • TV: NFL Network and NFL+
  • Records: Dolphins (8-5) Bills (10-3)
  • DraftKings Sportsbook line: Bills -7

Key Factors

1. Battling the Winter Weather

In Week 3, the heat in Miami proved to be a factor. Players were dropping like flies. More than a handful of players needed to head to the locker room for IV’s and to cool off. It was a close game in Week 3, and if it wasn’t as warm, maybe the outcome is different.

The snow won’t be as bad as Week 11 in Buffalo, where they had to move the game. However, it will still be a major factor. The forecast predicts up to six inches of snow by gametime, with a chance for more. With a severe weather alert of lake effect snow for Saturday, it could come down heavy.

On top of the snow, the temperature is expected to be a low of 26 degrees, with the wind chill in the low teens. The cold temperature, gusts of wind, and snow falling will make this game tougher for most players and could affect them in a big way.

2. Playing through Injuries

This Week 15 matchup will be a little bit kinder to both teams in regard to injuries than in their Week 3 matchup. For the Dolphins, they will be without safeties Elijah Campbell (concussion) and Eric Rowe (hamstring). Miami also has QB Teddy Bridewater (knee), RB Jeff Wilson (hip), and OL Terron Armstead (toe/pec/knee) listed as questionable. The Buffalo Bills will be without OL Ryan Bates (ankle) and DT Jordan Phillips (shoulder).

Both teams have some key players who are playing through injuries. For Miami, they will have LB Elandon Roberts (ribs), TE Durham Smythe (quad/knee), WR Tyreek Hill (ankle), CB Kader Kohou (thumb/neck), and DT Justin Zimmer (back). For Buffalo, they will have FB Reggie Gilliam (ankle), DT Ed Oliver (pec), LB Matt Milano (knee), QB Josh Allen (elbow), CB Cam Lewis (forearm), and OL Mitch Morse (elbow) playing through the pain.

Those are some big names playing through injuries to try to help their teams get the win in a big game.

Dolphins vs Bills: Keys to Success

Miami Dolphins – Don’t make Tua do too much

In the past two losses for the Miami Dolphins quarterback Tua Tagovailoa has struggled. He’s averaged 220 passing yards per game, thrown for three touchdowns and turned the ball over three times while having a 45.9% completion percentage. Head coach Mike McDaniels should look to take some pressure off of Tua to get him going again.

His recent struggles aren’t the only reason Miami should look to ease the pressure off Tua. Tagovailoa has struggled in his young career in cold weather. This could be the coldest game Tua has played in his football career. In games below 50 degrees, Tua has thrown two touchdowns while turning it over four times. He has had a combined QBR of 14, and is 0-3 in those games.

This weather could be the worst he’s ever seen, so it’s crucial for the Dolphins to make it easier for him.

Buffalo Bills – Win the Turnover Battle

In all three losses for the Bills this season, they have had more yards than their opponent. That’s the positive of their losses. On the flip side, they have also lost the turnover battle in each of those games. They have lost by 3 or less in each loss. If they win or tie the turnover battle, who knows, they could be undefeated right now.

With a top defense on the other side, turning the ball over might not seem like that big of a deal. But going into a game expected to have bad weather, turnovers could be more costly. Every possession will be crucial as both teams could struggle to move the ball down the field. If the Bills can take care of the ball, they should win this game. Especially considering the Bills are 3-0 in games where Josh Allen doesn’t have a turnover.

Final Thoughts

This could be an ugly offensive game, due to the weather. Miami will be looking to increase their chances at the AFC East. We could see them open up the playbook more than usual. On the other side, the Bills are looking to clinch a playoff berth and put themselves one win away from the division crown.

I expect a low scoring, close game that will come down to who can put the ball in the endzone last. Regardless of the outcome, the Bills vs Dolphins rivalry is clearly back.

Cole Beasley Back with the Buffalo Bills

Wide receiver Cole Beasley is back with the Buffalo Bills
Photo Credit: Adrian Kraus/AP

In March of 2022, the Buffalo Bills decided to cut wide receiver Cole Beasley after a tough season. Reports came out saying it was due to off-the-field issues and some of his worst statistics since joining the team.

He joined the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in September 2022, but that stint didn’t last long, as he played only two games before retiring. The 11-year wide out mentioned he wanted to become a “full-time dad and husband”, but that didn’t stand.

There was speculation that part of the reason he got released was due to his off-the-field issues. We don’t know for sure, but Beasley mentioned on Twitter in August 2022 that things changed and he won’t regret leaving. Well, being gone didn’t last long. A little over two months later, it has been announced that he is returning to Buffalo.

What Does Beasley Bring to the Table?

After a remarkable 2020 season with the Buffalo Bills, Cole Beasley had a bit of a down year last season. He recorded the same amount of receptions with 82, but his efficiency dropped significantly. Although he caught the same amount of passes in both years, his yards per reception went down from 11.8 to 8.5. His age started to show a bit. This caused his defense-adjusted yards above replacement (DYAR) down from 267, which ranked 12th, to -46, which ranked 88th among qualified wide receivers.

Beasley wasn’t as effective with the ball in his hands last season, but was still reliable when the ball was thrown his way. He ranked 10th in catch rate at 73% last season, which was down only 4% from 2020. He might not have the same burst he used to; however, he still has some of the best hands in the league.

How Cole Beasley Helps the Buffalo Bills

So what does this mean for the Bills this season? It means that Josh Allen has his safety valve back. Beasley was always Allen’s go-to on short yardage and third down situations. Buffalo has been lacking that reliable slot receiver this year. They rank 13th in the NFL in the red zone at 57.45%. It’s a big difference from 2021, when they were first in the NFL at 66.28%.

Beasley will help take pressure off of Allen and Stefon Diggs, being able to help space the field. Reports are that Allen asked the organization to bring back Beasley. This tells us that Allen knows the Bills needed good hands, as the team ranks in the top three in the league for dropped passes.

The Bills have now added two veteran wideouts (John Brown and Cole Beasley). We’ll see if they made the correct decision as they hope to lock down the #1 seed in the AFC.

Bye Week Rooting Guide for Miami Dolphins Fans

Photo Credit: Megan Briggs/Getty Images

The Miami Dolphins have finally hit a much needed bye week. When Miami returns to action next week, they will face the Houston Texans and then hit the most challenging portion of their schedule. But before we get there here’s a convenient rooting guide for Miami Dolphins fans for the bye week action.

Sitting at 7-3, the Dolphins find themselves atop the AFC East with seven games left. However, the weather is starting to change, spelling danger for this warm weather team, led by a warm weather quarterback. With the week off, Dolphin fans can turn their attention towards rooting against Miami’s interconference foes.

Miami Dolphins Rooting Guide

Buffalo Bills vs Cleveland Browns

The Miami Dolphins rooting guide starts with a game that’s a bit… murky in terms of rooting interests. Your rooting interest in this game varies on your expectations for Miami. Do you think Miami can survive this tough upcoming stretch and stay above Buffalo in the division? If that’s the case, then it’s Cleveland all day.

A loss would put Buffalo at 6-4, giving Miami a better record, tie-breaker, a better division record, a better conference record, and the edge in common opponent games because of last week’s win against this same Browns team. 

However, let’s play the numbers game here. After the Texans, the Dolphins will face a six-game stretch that features the San Francisco 49ers, Los Angeles Chargers, Buffalo Bills, Green Bay Packers, New England Patriots, and New York Jets. Only one of those teams presently sits below .500 — and that team has Aaron Rodgers.

What is the likelihood of Miami coming out of that stretch 5-1 or 4-2? The Dolphins may very well be competing for the Wild Card. If that is the case, Cleveland falling to 3-7 and losing the tiebreaker would make it nearly impossible for Cleveland to catch Miami. One less team to worry about come January is never a bad thing. 

Philadelphia Eagles vs Indianapolis Colts

This one is pretty simple: Root for the Eagles. With Philadelphia finally dropping a game on Monday, they serve no interest to the Miami Dolphins anymore. The Indianapolis Colts on the other hand, still find themselves in the thick of the wild card race.

Any NFC team beating an AFC opponent is a win for Miami. The Dolphins don’t face the Colts this season and play in a much stronger division. That gives the Colts an opportunity to gain the tie-breaker. Ensuring Miami has a better overall record is imperative. 

New York Jets vs New England Patriots 

All signs here point to a Patriots win being the most beneficial for the Dolphins. Miami has already beaten the Patriots and New England has a worse record. A Jets loss would put both New England and New York at four losses, which is helpful for the Dolphins, who will not be able to claim head-to-head tiebreaker over the Jets this season. 

Baltimore Ravens vs Carolina Panthers

Another NFC vs AFC matchup here leads to an easy rooting interest for the Dolphins. The Baltimore Ravens saw a 21-point lead evaporate to Tua and company in September, giving Miami a tiebreaker advantage over the Ravens. The Ravens are another team in the thick of the AFC, and losing to an out-of-conference opponent only gives the Dolphins a bigger advantage 

Las Vegas Raiders vs Denver Broncos

This game has little to no meaning for Miami, but there is still a slight rooting interest. A Raiders victory would put both clubs at 3-7, which would make it extremely hard for them to catch the Dolphins. However, a 4-6 Broncos team would still have a puncher’s chance. Miami fans should be rooting for the Raiders in this one.

Cincinnati Bengals vs Pittsburgh Steelers

While it seems obvious on the surface, figuring out who to root for is quite tricky in this game. On one hand, the Bengals are a team who could be competing with Miami for positioning — whether it’s as a division winner or a Wild Card team. 

On the other hand, would it be more beneficial for Miami to have the Bengals win the North so the Dolphins are competing with the Ravens for the Wild Card, whom they already have a win against? That all depends on what you think the Dolphins’ chances of winning the AFC East are. If you think the Dolphins will come out of this tough stretch and relinquish first place, you should be rooting for the Bengals to win the AFC North.

Kansas City Chiefs vs Los Angeles Chargers 

Our final game is another that differs based on where you think Miami finishes in the division. An AFC East champion Miami Dolphins team would absolutely love for the Chiefs to drop this game, as the two teams battle for the number one spot in the conference and the illustrious first round bye. 

However, a Wild Card Miami Dolphins team will be rooting like hell for the Chiefs this weekend. The Chargers are a team who finds themselves right in the thick of the Wild Card race. The Dolphins have an opportunity to gain a head-to-head advantage over them in December, and the Chiefs adding a loss to Los Angeles’ schedule would be even more beneficial.